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EURIS taskforce sees post-Brexit hope in pan-EU industrial consensus

Body bringing together 11 industry bodies, including HVAC specialists, identifies regulatory alignment and customs arrangements as key focuses for Brexit negotiations

The EURIS advisory body, which brings together manufacturing and mechanical engineering bodies such as BEAMA and FETA, has this week launched a new network with EU counterparts intended to alleviate potential market disruption by creating a single industrial voice on key Brexit ambitions.

BEAMA chief executive and EURIS chair Dr Howard Porter said he had been encouraged by mutual agreements reached following an initial two-day Brexit summit that concluded on May 9. He argued that industrial leaders working across sectors such as the HVAC industry in the UK and EU both favoured as little change as possible to the current customs and standards environment once Brexit is complete.

Four key points of concern were identified following the pan-European summit that took place between May 8 to May 9. These concerns included reaching an agreement on ensuring regulatory alignment and standards compliance between the UK and EU as much as possible.

Paul O’Donnell, the head of external affairs for the Manufacturing Technologies Association said that ‘rules of origin’ was the second major consideration for EURIS. This relates to work to determine where products have come from in relation to future trade deals. A subject described as extremely complex by the panel.

EURIS will also look at the issue of notified bodies that determines how the UK can continue to play some role in different EU and pan-European bodies post-Brexit.

He said, “Clearly is it in the UK business interest to do that, but I think it will be important for the EU to have input from British colleagues as well.

Mr O’Donnell also pointed to the significant issue of a future customs arrangement with the EU. This concern was raised amidst reported splits within the UK government around preferred options for trade once no longer a member state.

While ongoing involvement in the existing union would allowed continued tariff free trading with EU member states, it also prevents the UK or other EU nations to individually negotiate trade agreements. This is an important point of contention for those opposed to retaining membership of the customs union after Brexit.

“Frictionless” as possible

Mr O’Donnell said the issue of customs arrangements was a “fraught area” from a political perspective, yet there was a common interest on both sides of the channel among the business community for a relationship that was as “frictionless” as possible.

He said that the summit had to this end, identified interest in an arrangement that was as simple and unbureaucratic as possible.

Dr Porter said that the EURIS consensus from member organisations was for there to be as little change as possible from the existing relationship with the EU.

He added, “Apart from what has already happened in terms of currency variations, which does affect prices and things that are out of the hands of industry players, we want as few barriers as possible put in place for import and export.”

Dr Porter also hoped to ensure that the availability of products and components was not unduly interrupted by Brexit and again emphasized ambitions to have as much clarity as possible on future customs arrangements.

However, Dr Porter said that the ultimate response of its members would still be dependent on government finalising arrangements on key areas of its aims for Brexit discussions. One particular example would be on the issue of a customs union and whether the UK opts to remain a party to the existing arrangement, leave entirely or reach an alternative agreement with the EU.

Once this was known, he contended that EURIS could then provide a position and ways forward for members.

Dr porter added, “At the moment, we are not quite sure what we issue the statement about.”

A future event to bring together key stakeholders from cross the EU to look at pressing industry issues was now scheduled by the group for the autumn. Working groups are expected to be established by the summer to look at common positions that can be taken up by industry across the EU to pressure their respective governments over.

At present, EURIS added that it had been encouraged by the response of bodies such as the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to listen to key concerns facing specific business sectors.

EURIS claimed that it was viewed by BEIS as one of the first industry groupings to meet with its European counterparts to take a pan-European approac to Brexit planning, rather than UK-only approach to the potential challenges and opportunities posed.

The organisation’s vice chair Steve Bramley said that the need for this collaboration was a reflection of the complex and diverse supply chain represented by its members.

He said, “Our industry as a whole accounts for more than 25 per cent of exports and imports between the UK and EU. So, there is a high degree of importance because of this for these discussions.”

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